Anybody seen our 12th Man?

Well, this column is called the 12th Man and maybe it is time for the 12th Man to come to the fore again. Not so much the Reading game but I have been peering with some interest at the three fixtures which close out February for some time now, and it would seem that they are now upon us.

Although Reading’s progress in the cup may well have played some part in their inertia on Tuesday night it was still a very pleasant surprise to pick up three points and from seemingly being dead and buried, we now appear to have a fighting chance.

The next challenge will be to sort out our home form and it would appear that this is our fourth tranche of two home games on the bounce. Each one of these we have looked at to achieve something.

In August, we despatched Blackpool and Birmingham at which point it felt like we had finally hit the straps for the season we were expecting.

In October, we faced Brentford and Millwall looking to salvage what was left of an ill fated promotion tilt and in January, home fixtures against Blackburn and Huddersfield failed to yield any wins to pull us out of the mire.

So here we are again. Two home games and a chance to finally give long suffering season ticket holders something to cheer. What can work in our favour is that neither Charlton or Cardiff are likely to be particularly well-supported, especially as both are night games.

Apart from a highly sarcastic bout of cheering when 3-0 down to Bournemouth, the home crowd at the DW has been almost perpetually subdued for most of the season and particularly since Malky Mackay took over.

Let’s face it though, we have had next to nothing to cheer about for nearly six months: no wins to speak of, a scarcity of goals to celebrate and a barely concealed lack of effort on the park.

Yet Tuesday’s result means all bets are back on again. A more attacking line up and a couple of newly installed steady centre halves means that we can turn up with a renewed vigour and hopefully the positivity in the stands and on the field will feed each other.

There has always been something about night games which seems to add an extra buzz, the glow of the floodlights giving an extra green sheen to the pitch and there can be an extra fizz to the crowd as well – if – and this is a big IF we go out and attack with purpose in the next two games.

A couple of wins or even a win and a draw will go a long way to helping our cause, or at the very least keeping us in the battle with a crucial game at Blackpool to follow. Talking about it is the easy bit though.

This time next week the landscape could look very, very different for Wigan Athletic….

First published in the Wigan Evening Post 12th Man column Friday 20th February 2015

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